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…and it was their perception that they did not see an effective presence of the Democratic Party in Kern County. They decided that this was a situation that needed changing and they would work to change it! This was the beginning of the organization originally named the Democratic Women of South San Joaquin Valley, now officially called the Democratic Women of Kern.
Since that time, this organization has developed a core group of committed women, (and men) who participate in activities that support the local Democratic Party and its principles. DWK works in cooperation with the Kern County Democratic Central Committee, sponsors events to highlight local Democratic candidates and assists wherever they can by working to register voters, provide phone banking, walking and working for positive change in our community. We continue to provide a platform where guest speakers address relevant issues of the current political climate and where we can come together as Democrats and as women to educate and support each other. We celebrate over 20 years of political activism and we are still fighting the good fight.
We invite you to join us.
The founders of Democratic Women of Kern
Katy Lingo, Marie Vasili & Renee Westa-Lusk
Meet Our Board
Robin is a Bakersfield native. For many years, she has passionately defended constitutional rights in criminal cases, including death penalty. She is now the lead Deputy Public Defender, representing children in abuse/neglect cases, and minors charged with crimes. She serves on the board of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, and is involved with many local social justice groups. She is also co-director of Women’s March Kern County, another organization like DWK, that seeks to empower women, recognize their intersectionality and pursue social justice. She lives by these words: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” ~ Dolores Huerta
Robin Fernandez has worked in a variety of fields and levels of accounting for about 40 years. She began her career with the Salvation Army, later moved on to work in the supermarket industry, and eventually was employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The results of the November 2016 elections inspired her to take action and get more politically involved. Her search to make a difference led her to join events and causes such as Women’s March Los Angeles, Kern County Indivisible, Kern County Democratic Central Committee and Democratic Women of Kern (DWK). For Robin, DWK has provided the inspiration and political activities that help feed her soul.
Elise is a lifelong Democrat, fueled by her immigrant father’s first exposure to American Democracy and JFK, she had always believed that voting in every single election was the best and most she could do as a U.S. Citizen, but after November 8, 2016, she needed to do more. She reached out to and became involved with as many groups and people across Kern County as she could. She discovered and joined DWK in January 2017 because she wanted to be a part of a group of strong, independent, smart, positive, Democratic people who were working for a change.
Cathee is originally from the SF bay area and has now lived in Bakersfield for 40 years. She met her husband at Humboldt State when they were both students there. She is the mother of a son and daughter and the grandmother of 2 as well. Cathee is a former President of DWK and former chair of the Kern County Democratic Party. Over the years she has worked for Kern County and on various political campaigns. Currently, she is happily enjoying retirement with her husband, where they love to garden and spend time at the beach.
Paula Woodard was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. She is a retired teacher and presently working as a reading tutor. She is a lifelong democrat who believes in justice, equity, and opportunity for all.
Member at Large
This is Tracy’s second term as member-at-large, during which time she has chaired DWK’s annual luncheon — the group’s largest fundraiser of the year.
A newspaper journalist for 20-plus years, she now works in marketing and communications. She is dedicated to growing the Democratic party and championing causes benefiting women.
In addition to serving on DWK’s executive board, Tracy is a board member for Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire and serves on the advisory board for Youth Leadership Bakersfield. She has been an organizer for Women’s March of Kern County and is an elected member (District 1) of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee.
Member at Large
Runa moved from Hawaii to Bakersfield 24 years ago, and is proud to call Bakersfield home. With the 2016 election, Runa realized that she no longer had the luxury of sitting on the political sidelines, and after she graduated from CSUB in 2018, she joined the Democratic Women of Kern. She enjoys helping as much as possible by being on the DWK Scholarship Committee and the eBoard, as well as volunteering with other organizations. Runa has worked in marketing and outreach, as well as journalism. She loves music, cooking and traveling.
Member at Large
Rachelle Carter is a retired teacher who has voted in every election since her first when the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution lowered the minimum voting age from 21 to 18. After the election results of 2016, Rachelle deepened her commitment to political engagement by getting involved with Democratic Women of Kern. Rachelle strives to approach each day with positivity, hard work, and a giving and caring approach—especially in her DWK board member duties, which include being a Member at Large and Outreach Coordinator.